Once you realize that you’re no longer capable of working, the next question you have to answer may very well be, “Is it time to file for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits?”
The answer isn’t always clear. On one hand, you’re entitled to file your claim as soon as you make the decision that you’re not able to work. On the other, filing too soon can make it harder for your claim to get approved at the initial level — or the reconsideration phase. That can set you on the long path toward a hearing in front of an administrative law judge unnecessarily.
Here are the things you need to consider:
1. Has your condition lasted for a year or is it expected to last for at least a year despite treatment?
Social Security only provides benefits for conditions that will last 12 months or longer. If you’ve just been injured in an accident, it may be too soon to tell if you’re going to be unable to return to work in a year. Your doctor may have a better picture in a few months, which could make waiting a smart decision.
2. Have you given your doctor’s recommended treatment enough of a try?
If you aren’t compliant with your doctor’s treatment, that’s a sure way to get your claim denied. Similarly, if you’ve just begun treatment, you may not have had time to show improvement. This is particularly important if you have a condition that often responds well to treatment.
For example, if you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, it can take a while for diet, exercise and medication to alleviate your symptoms. Filing immediately after your diagnosis before you give treatment a try is usually nonproductive.
Winning approval for Social Security Disability claims is hard. An attorney can help you prepare your claim and protect your rights.